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Interview

The Automatic 

Rob Hawkins, James Frost, Alex Pennie, Iwan Griffiths

added: 3 Mar 2006
interviewed by: Music-News.com Newsdesk 

The Automatic - Rob Hawkins, James Frost, Alex Pennie, Iwan Griffiths - Printable version
The Automatic are label mates to Kaiser Chiefs / The Rakes, and currently causing ripples in the UK music scene.

At the bar of a swanky Shepherds Bush hotel Music News caught up with the latest Welsh musical export.

Rob Hawkins: vocals, bass
James Frost: guitar
Alex Pennie: synths, vocals
Iwan Griffiths: drums


MN: How are things?

Rob Hawkins: Great thanks, we've just been in a design meeting discussing the single design. We're looking at following an Orwellian theme with graffiti and stuff, no concept as such but should look quite interesting hopefully.

MN: Creatively do you find that B-Unique offers you the freedom to follow your hearts or are there guidelines?

James Frost: So far so good. The label has been great, we took out time in deciding who to sign with and I think we made a good choice. We haven't had any clashes so far.

MN: You've just come off a support tour with The Kooks, Ordinary Boys and Hard Fi, what was that like?

Rob Hawkins: A great experience, playing to packed venues every night. I loved The Astoria supporting The Cribs, it was mad, totally rammed and also supporting The Kooks at ULU.

MN: Which band was the most rock n' roll?

Rob Hawkins: Definitely the Ordinary Boys [smiles], they are a great laugh, real good fun. We really got on with The Kooks as well being the same age.

MN: We caught you supporting The Kooks at ULU last week, great night, to me one of the best tracks was 'Monster' are we right in thinking that will be the third single?

Rob Hawkins: That's right. It was one of the songs that helped us to get signed. It's about what happens when people get too pissed and that 'Monster' comes out. How many times do you walk through a city centre after closing time to find loads of pissed wankers acting like arseholes? It's just highlighting that 'Monster;' and how alcohol awakens him.

MN: How did you get signed?

Rob Hawkins: Usual route I suppose, we did a demo, sent it around to labels and tried to generate as much interest as we could. B-Unique came down to see us live in Cardiff and signed us. Since then we re-recorded the material and here we are.

MN: The album was produced by Steve Harris (U2, Kaiser Chiefs). Was it you're choice to hook up with him?

Rob Hawkins: Well, he works for the label so it was an easy decision. He was great and brought out a lot in the music and gave it a real lift. As well as working with Steve on the album we've worked with producer Richard Jackson (60ft Dolls, Super Furry Animals) who produced our original demos and he's produced four tracks for the album including 'Monster'. We also did some work with Liverpool legend Ian Broudie who produced the first single 'Recover'.

MN: How long did the recording take?

James Frost: We recorded in four blocks, totaling about six weeks recording in four different locations.

Iwan Griffiths: Musically it was tougher as each time we'd had a break and had to set up all the equipment in exactly the same way and get straight back into the same mindset. But it was great fun although the recording we did post Christmas had a darker side to it.

MN: Bearing in mind that 'Raoul' will be only your second single it seems that you have been around for quite a while, how old are you all?

James Frost: Everyone's 20 apart from me, I'm 19.

Rob Hawkins: We have been playing together as The Automatic for about a year now but before that we were called White Rabbit.

MN: Who thought of the name?

All point to Iwan.

Iwan Griffiths: I suppose I did. It just came about as we were thinking what's the automatic thing people generally do in life? We wanted to do something different.

MN: Who writes the songs?

James Frost: We all do. We just lock ourselves into a studio and everybody adds bits and works together, it's no one person.

MN: Your new single 'Raoul' is out at the end of the month, what is it about?

Rob Hawkins: 'Raoul' is the name of the Peruvian guy who owns a cafe in Cardiff. His sons called Raoul too, a great place near our studios that makes the best sandwiches and we always escape from studio to go and see him and get lunch. So Raoul represents a welcome break for us, which is definitely a good thing. A great guy.

MN: Is that the Raoul that appears in your video or is that an actor?

James Frost: No its an actor - we couldn't afford the real Raoul (laughs)

MN: What's the Cardiff music scene like?

Rob Hawkins: There are some cool bands about like 'People In Planes' and 'Jar Crew'. Cardiff only has two main venues but there is a good scene.

MN: Playing at any festivals this year?

Rob Hawkins: Hopefully Oxygen in Ireland and Fuji Rock, but we'd also love to play T In The Park and Reading. Reading especially as the last three years we've always gone down and had a great time.

MN: What's the best comment that you've read about yourselves?

Rob Hawkins: I loved 'Filling the void between The Blood Brothers and Interpol' by the NME. I really respect both those bands.

MN: Thanks a lot for your time and see you live again soon.

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